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Sex education "unfit for smartphone generation"


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Sex education is “unfit” for the smartphone generation of children and young adolescents, a sexual health charity has warned.

Government guidance on school sex and relationships education policies is out of date, the Terrence Higgins Trust said. It was noted that much of the current curriculum is older than the majority of pupils learning about the subject.

The guidance for schools in England was written 16 years ago in 2000 – before the advent of social media, smartphones or equal marriage and Civil Partnerships, according to a new report by the charity.

The report also details the findings of a poll of 900 young people aged 16-24, which found the majority were not taught about consent in sex education – in fact a staggering 75% said the topic was not covered.

The gay pride flag flies above a busy Oxford Street (Daniel Leal-Olivas/PA)
(Daniel Leal-Olivas/PA)

Meanwhile, perhaps even more shockingly, 95% said there was no mention on LGBT sex and relationships during their lessons.

Half of those surveyed rated the sex and relationships education (SRE) they received in school as either “poor” or “terrible”.

The HIV and sexual health charity said where sex and relationships education is happening, it is usually limited to the biological aspect of sex, rather than the psychological and emotional side.

A teacher in a classroom (John Love/AP)
(John Love/AP)

“In this report, we’ve seen the stark reality of SRE in this country and heard saddening stories of how one generation of young people have been exposed to low self-esteem, homophobia, bullying, unhealthy relationships and poor sexual health, as a result of the lack of quality SRE in our schools,” said Terrence Higgins Trust chief executive Ian Green.

On the 16-year-old guidance, he added: “It is shocking that government guidance offered to schools on SRE is older than nearly all of the students themselves.

“It is wholly unfit to prepare them for the realities of sex and relationships in 2016.”

A Department for Education spokesperson said: “High quality sex and relationships education is a vital part of preparing young people for life in modern Britain – helping them make informed choices, stay safe and learn to respect themselves and others.

“Our guidance is clear that young people, whatever their developing sexuality, need to feel that sex and relationships education is relevant to them and sensitive to their needs.”

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